Georgia Farmers Blame Immigration Law for Labor Shortages Costing State $390 Million

Friday, October 07, 2011
Matt Ramsey, author of Georgia anti-immigartion bill
The political decision to crack down on illegal immigration in Georgia may end up costing the state’s agricultural sector nearly $400 million, due to a lack of farmworkers.
Farmers complained after the Republican-controlled legislature passed HB 87, which mandates the use of the federal E-Verify program to ensure that all employees can legally work in the United States. They have argued that unauthorized workers are needed to do the back-breaking work of picking fruits and vegetables because not enough Americans will perform the low-paying jobs.
With the new law expected to interfere with this practice, farmers hired the University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development to study what impact the legislation would have on the agricultural economy. The conclusion: losses could reach $391 million.
The report did not blame the anti-illegal immigration law for the troubles. But the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, which sponsored the study, did.
The author of HB 87, GOP Representative Matt Ramsey, responded to the report by saying “there are existing federal visa programs that provide a legal avenue for the agriculture industry to import as much migrant labor as necessary to supplement their domestic workforce,” although he admitted that the federal programs “are bureaucratically and administratively cumbersome” and need reform.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Report: Farm Labor Shortages May Cost Georgia Economy $391 Million (by Jeremy Redmon and Daniel Malloy, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


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